Staying overnight in the desert is a one-of-a-kind experience that I always recommend. These tours are available in many countries, such as Tunisia or the UAE. But in this post, I’ll focus mostly on the overnight Sahara Desert tour in Morocco.
That said, the below recommendations can be applied to pretty much any desert tour, regardless of the country you’re visiting. Keep reading for tips on what to wear in the desert!
About Morocco desert tours
Before listing all the items that you should bring on a desert tour, I’ll proceed to explain how these trips work. If it’s your first time, you might not know what to expect. So here are the answers to your questions!
Booking a desert tour
Most visitors book their desert tour from Marrakech. These are run by a bunch of different local tour operators, and some hotels offer them as well. If you’re renting a car to travel around Morocco, then you can just book your tour once you arrive at the desert ‘gates’ (i.e. once you’re in Merzouga). However, I’d recommend reserving your spot in advance, especially during high season.
Before embarking on the ‘adventure’, you’ll be able to drop off your stuff at a nearby hotel/hostel. These places are often safe and you’ll have a room to yourself, but I still recommend you only bring the essentials and leave everything else in your hotel back in Marrakech (provided that you book a return trip from/to Marrakech).
Camel trekking in the Sahara Desert
While many companies offer 4×4 jeep safari tours in Merzouga, camel treks in the desert are often the top pick.
After dropping off your stuff at the hotel in Merzouga, your adventure begins! Most tours depart right before sunset, and you’ll be able to take in the beautiful scenery of sunbeams over the orange dunes as the sun sets.
Camels are often led by a tour guide, who knows exactly when to stop along the way so you can take pictures of the camels and the desert colors at sunset. Don’t forget to bring your camera! You’ll be able to capture breathtaking shots. But watch out for the desert sand – it can seriously damage your phone or camera.
The ride to the campsite is around 1-1.5 hours long, depending on how long you spend taking photos and whatnot.
Overnight in the desert: dinner, tents and more
Tents are usually equipped with everything you need to spend the night: mattresses, blankets, bathrooms… So you have nothing to worry about.
By the tents, you’ll find an area where dinner is served. It usually consists of Moroccan traditional dishes, such as couscous, tajine and a cup of hot tea. After dinner, you’ll have free time to go star gazing or to do anything you’d like. But don’t forget to stay near the tents. Losing sight of the campsite can be particularly dangerous, as it’s pretty easy to get lost. No matter how good your sense of direction is, it will be quite hard to find your way back – and Google Maps won’t work in the middle of the desert.
When you wake up the next morning, breakfast will be ready and waiting for you. Then it’s time to wave goodbye to the desert and head back to your hotel in Merzouga. And that’s the end of your desert trekking!
Desert essentials: packing list
As you could see, tours include pretty much everything you need. So you don’t need to worry about bringing food, sleeping bags, or any other item to your overnight trip to the desert. So the only question that you might still need answers to is what clothes to take to the desert?
It’s important to bear in mind that – as strange as it may seem – nights in the desert can be very cold, especially in winter. That’s why you shouldn’t forget to pack warm clothes just in case!
Here’s my recommended packing list for an overnight tour to the Sahara Desert:
- Comfy clothes for the camel trekking
- Warm clothes to put on in the evening, especially if you’re visiting Morocco in the winter
- Comfortable footwear. But don’t bring your newest pair of Nike, as the desert sand gets shoes pretty dirty
- Your pyjamas or sleepwear
- Basic toiletries (your toothbrush, a hairbrush, etc.)
- A camera to take stunning pictures of the desert at sunset (optional, but recommended!)
- Many people bring a turban to take photos with it in the desert, but this is of course non-essential
A small backpack will just do. So forget about carrying all that stuff you won’t need. In fact, you must take into account the fact that you’ll be riding on a camel, so you’ll need to carry everything with you – so the less, the merrier 🙂 Your guide will take care of everything else – water, flashlights, etc.
Last but not least, bear in mind that your clothes will probably get dirty during the camel ride. That’s why I suggest you don’t change clothes the next morning (it would be a shame to ruin two outfits). Just take a shower as soon as you get back to your hotel in Merzouga and put on clean clothes then.
Best time to visit the Sahara
You’ve probably already realized that the worst time to go on a tour to the desert is during the winter months. As it gets dark, temperatures drop and your one-in-a-lifetime experience turns into your worst nightmare. Trust me, I’ve been there. On the contrary, the Sahara Desert reaches extremely high temperatures during the summer months (June to September). In conclusion, visit the desert in April or May if you want to play it safe.
I hope you find these tips useful. How soon is your Sahara Desert trip happening?
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